Law firms got bigger in 2012, but just barely. This year’s NLJ 350, The National Law Journal‘s annual survey of the nation’s biggest law firms by number of lawyers, shows that firms grew by just 1.1 percent during 2012, a retrenchment from 1.7 percent growth in 2011. A full 140 firms on this year’s list shrank in size — 40 percent of the group. What little gains occurred largely were in the partner numbers, which climbed by 1.5 percent — a figure itself far removed from the pre-recession boom days when partner increases ran in the 5 percent range. In all, we counted 141,056 lawyers working in more than 3,500 offices around the world.
The trickle of growth in the NLJ 350 is an indicator of economic wariness among the largest U.S. law firms.